Jan. 3 (UPI) -- The U.S. public has never been as divided as it is now. President Donald Trump has been acting more as a showman pleasing his audience than as a statesman catering to the needs of the entire country. He is very adamant on fulfilling his campaign promises. Even his 2020 campaign slogan is promises made, promises kept.
This is why, he is not backing down on the issue of the wall on the Mexico border despite the government shutdown. He ordered withdrawal from Syria, though there is near unanimous agreement among policy experts that such an action will compromise American interests abroad. His rationale is that he promised his voters that he is going to withdraw and he has to keep his promise.
Trump is more concerned about fulfilling the promises he made to his base than reconciling with the rest of the country. For his voters, he is a man of his word. However, non-Trumpian Americans feel more and more alienated by their president and this is pushing them to the other extreme. Now we see a radical left rising among the ranks of the Democrats. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is talking about socialism. Socialism in America! The principles on which the country is built contradict which the premises of socialism. However, the rift is widening by the day between the left and the right, between the urban and the rural areas.
What to do?
We have to remember that Trump's election came also as a reaction to President Barack Obama. Obama was very lax on immigration and the country was flooded with undocumented people. His overly liberal policies were offensive to the conservative Midwesterners. They were feeling the country was losing its character and its morals. Drugs were everywhere, children no longer respected their elders, one could no longer mention the word God, going to church became a lame practice. People were longing for conservatism and here comes Trump with Mike Pence as his vice president.
Unlike other Republicans who talk generalities, Trump gave specific solutions to his audience's perceived problems. He did read them very well. He did not say that he will enforce border security, he said more specifically that he will build a "concrete wall"' along the border with Mexico. Given he made "concrete" promises, it is very hard for him to back down on them without losing credibility.
The same way Trump is a reaction to Obama, the United States risks having the pendulum swing the other way with the next elections, which will further divide the American people. Again, what is the solution? One thing is for sure: The American people have lost their faith in the traditional political elite. This is another reason why an outsider was elected.
Who then should be the next president? Who will be able to heal Americans from those lethal divisions? Should it be another businessman with no government experience? Not really, for two reasons. The first reason is that running the largest economy, the largest military in the world, a country with 325 million citizens requires experience. The other reason is that someone with a vast amount of wealth and with investments around the world will definitely have or seem to have a conflict of interest. We see this with the Trump investigations.
In the United States' case, only a military person can bring unity to a divided country. Liberals might push against this idea and say it is a Third World country practice for a general to head the state, and that a military person will have an autocratic approach. This is true in countries that have no democratic systems, no institutions. However, in a country of checks and balances, a general cannot turn the system into an autocracy. Did the election of Ulysses Grant or Dwight Eisenhower change the democratic character of the country? Not at all.
The other reason why a military figure will unite American is because the military is patriotic, non-political and non-partisan. They would have a conciliatory agenda. Also, not coming from a partisan background and not restricted to a confined constituency, they tend to have a broad inclusive and national perspective. Unlike the traditional politicians whose views are molded by narrow interest groups, they will tend to look at the national interest of the entire country whenever they are putting in foreign or domestic policies.
We have to remember that in a time when the average American has lost confidence in the political system, the military remains the only institution he respects and trusts. Also, in a time where the American dream seems elusive, there is something inspiring about the military. They are those selfless men and women who are ready to die so that the rest of the Americans don't have to. Only a military person can reunite the American people and reignite their hope and confidence in America and its system.
Dania Koleilat Khatib is executive director of the Al Istishari Al Strategy Center for Economic and Future Studies, a UAE-based independent think tank. She specializes in U.S.-Arab relations and researches sectarianism, extremism and governance. Her book "The Arab Lobby and the U.S.: Factors for Success and Failure" was published by Routledge UK and translated to Arabic.